Running involves a lot of physical activity. Jarring your joints and breaking down your muscles can be tough to recover from. It is possible to reduce the burn and recover from a run in less time than you would if you just sat around.
Food: The first 15 minutes after you run is the best opportunity to give your body much-needed nutrients. If your stomach cannot handle a meal right after a run, have a light snack. A banana and a handful of nuts makes the perfect after-run snack. It is full of potassium and protein (Reinink, 2009).
Liquid: Running takes a lot out of you. It also dehydrates you. As you get dehydrated, your blood thickens up. Getting water or milk into your system can help rehydrate you and thin out your blood so your heart won’t have to work so hard. The added bonus with milk is that it has carbohydrates and protein that you need after a long run (Reinink, 2009).
Change Into Dry Clothes: After sweating from a long run, it is very important to change into dry clothes. Sweating and being wet with sweat can cause you to get cold easier. Cooling down too fast can lead to muscle cramps (Run A Marathon, 2012).
Swimming: Swimming the day after a long run is a great way to recover. This works out all major muscle groups in your legs and abdomen. Even a causal swim can increase oxygen to important muscles. The weightlessness of being in a pool can also relax the tension and stress on your muscles (Fitzgerald, 2011).
Light Exercise: Light exercise is a great way to get oxygen pumping to your muscles. If your muscles feel tight, get your blood pumping to relieve the tension (Performance , 2004).
Light Stretch: A light stretch can really help you work out some of the tension. Do not over stretch though. Flexibility as a runner is not always a good thing. Studies have proven that being too flexible of a runner, can actually damage your distance runs (Wang, Whitney, Burdett & Janosky, 1993).
Recovery Run: Believe it or not, a recovery run may be just what you need to feel better. Running rushes oxygen to your muscles and helps break up the tenderness. The endorphins that are released during a running session can also help you reduce the ache in your muscles (Performance , 2004).
A Good Eight Hours Sleep: Your body heals faster when you are sleeping. Getting a good eight hours of sleep after a long run and refueling your body can be essential to a speedy recovery (Kolata, 2007).
Soak Your Legs In Cold Water: Amazingly enough, soaking your legs in cold water, not only decrease pain, but also promotes faster healing. Runners are not the only ones who use this technique. Gymnasts soak their entire body in cold water, some times ice water, to promote healing while training (Finke & Finke).
Recovery Walks: When running long distances, stop running and walk a while every few miles. This will allow you to let your muscles cool down. This method works in training for long-distance runs as well (Galloway, 2011).
Over the years, I have been involved in many sports. As a child, I tortured by body with gymnastics. As a teenager, I focused on speed and strength in martial arts. Now, as an adult, I keep my body moving an in shape with long distance runs.
Wang, S. S., Whitney, S. L., Burdett, R. G., & Janosky, J. E. (1993). Lower extremity muscular flexibility in long distance runners. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 17(2), 102-107. doi: PubMed: 8467336